When my 2018 leather-bound agenda arrived in the mail, I felt like a child getting a brand-new notebook on the first day of school.

I even bought special-coloured markers to coordinate my content.  My day-week-month calendar was specifically created to help me plan my days, chart my goals and plot my destiny. Prioritize. Schedule. Dream. Achieve.

Enthusiastically, I flipped open the fill-in-the-blank pages. I pulled out my orange felt tip marker (my favourite colour) and got set to write. One of the first questions the agenda prompted me to answer was, “What are your goals?”

Good question. Get right to the point. Success requires goals and a plan. What will I need to feel successful this year? It should have been an easy response, but I had none. I had no tangible goals. I had no objectives. I had no answer.

My goals are simple: pay the bills, focus on keeping my family healthy and happy, keep my job, be a good person. Beyond that, the truth is, I am basically stumbling through life and making decisions as I go.

I can’t even stay true to a meal plan and my elliptical won’t speak to me anymore, so all my previous years of take-charge mantras were just hot air.  I’ve not taken charge of much. I’ve been too focused on existing. One day at a time.

Suddenly, I had a flashback to a day at the Erin Fall Fair. I had challenged my family to the midway game Whack-a-Mole. The game uses an over-sized mallet to hit plastic moles that pop up randomly out of make-shift mole holes. Contestants score a point for every mole whacked on the head. My family laughed, smacking the moles with a healthy competitive spirit. Not me.

I was anxious to nail that little rodent with an enthusiasm that went beyond winning a prize. I cannot even remember who won the game, but I do remember the moment that it hit me, as I hit the mole, that this ridiculous game was a perfect metaphor for my life. The mole represented the daily to-do list. Its random pop-ups were the challenges I could not predict. That plastic smiling mole reminded me that, most days, my definition of success is measured by my ability to whack that mole (also my ability not to go rogue and start smacking the people on my to-whack list). As fast as I knock out one issue, another pops up, and some days, I just can’t wait to drop the mallet and go to bed, where I often wake up thinking about the moles I have yet to whack.

So many moles, so little time.

Last year, nothing I planned worked out, though I succeeded in many ways. The best moments were the ones I didn’t plan at all, when I dropped the mallet and just went with the flow of the day. The hardest moments were the ones I could never have seen coming, and I assure you, all the planning in the world could not have made those moments any easier.

Sometimes, I’m the mole.

So, my new agenda has a few blank spaces. My goals are open to possibility. I remain hopeful. I will coordinate my schedule and leave room to create memories. Life doesn’t go according to plan and neither do I.  I’m okay with that.